CD10 Core: Skills

Work in progress ahead. Information in this article could change!

Skills are a numeric representation of how adept your character is at a particular activity. They are one of three parts that make up the numerical values of a character. A skill holds all your characters ability, knowledge and general performance within the skills' area. Skills are always divided into six groups, dependent on setting.

For instance, here are groups for a modern cyberpunk setting and a medieval fantasy setting side-by-side:

Communication (Co)
Firearms (F)
Knowledge (K)
Maneuvers (M)
Technology (T)
Willpower (W)
Communication (Co)
Crafts (Cr)
Knowledge (K)
Maneuvers (M)
Occultism (O)
Willpower (W)

Communication skills are skills that involve communicating with others in one way or another. It could involve holding speeches or trying to win over a crowd at a rally. Firearms cover all manner of ranged weapons from handguns to plasma cannons. Knowledge skills are skills that require study and academia. Skills in this group are usually such that most ordinary folks don't have much competency in them. Maneuvers are great physical feats such as running, swimming and most melee fighting skills. Technology cover high tech skills such as advanced computer operation, hacking, tracing and cybernetics. Willpower cover skills that require great mental stamina or patience to perform. Crafts hold all the skills that involve creating and manipulating matter to make things. It could be something like blacksmithing or carpentry. Occultism covers everything supernatural, even the more divine parts of the supernatural.


Each setting has its own set of skill groups and they have a small impact on gameplay, mostly in the form of traits having relations to specific skill groups.

One such example is the trait Quick Study which allows a player to pick a category of skills that they have an easier time learning.

Combat skill relations

Combat is a fundamental skill that shares a lot of basics with other, similar styles. As such, you can use skill substitution on combat skills depending on if it's closely related to or distantly related to another combat skill. If it's closely related, you are at a -2 internal modifier. If it's distantly related, you are at a -4. Every combat skill has a list of other combat skills it's related to.

Creating new skills

Should you find that you have an idea for a skill but can't find one in the list that covers your use case, you can always just add it to the game. Most of the things should already be covered by , but in case you find something that needs to be added, take great care to outline the skill so that it isn't too narrow or too broad. Creating new skills and traits is one of the strengths of CD10, and while the modules provide many traits and skills for you to use, we can never create skills for every setting and world.

Skill substitution

In some cases, like with Interrogation and Persuasion or Disguise and Performance there is a small or significant overlap. In these cases the GM can rule that even if a character does not have, say Interrogation, they can still interrogate someone using Persuasion even though they are not trained for that specific purpose. The character then performs the task at a disadvantage. Usually the GM can do this by increasing difficulty by +3 or whatever number she sees fit for the situation.

Improving with experience

In order for a character to improve, they must pay a certain amount of experience points depending on what they want to improve. There should always be an in-game narrative explanation for how your character acquired new skills or abilities. Everything is paid for with experience points including skills, traits and abilities. Experience points are rewarded to the player post-session as the GM sees fit. See the experience section of CD10 Core: Running a Game for details on awarding experience.

Experience cost

Players improve skills by paying experience points. Skills range between +1 to infinity, though skills beyond +10 are rare and largely overkill. In order to improve a skill, you must pay an equal number of experience points to the level of proficiency you are improving to. For example, if you have +3 in a skill and you want to improve it to +4, you must pay 4 experience points. If you want to increase it further to +5, you pay an additional +5.

Skill level Cost per step Total cost
+1 1 1
+2 2 3
+3 3 6
+4 4 10
+5 5 15
+6 6 21
+7 7 28
+8 8 36
+9 9 45
+10 10 55

The system of learning new skills is heavily tied to narrative and story, so while the rules give you some good guidelines for how to treat skills, there are several story-related situations where this might not fit well and the GM must make changes to how skills and abilities are acquired and improved.

Improving known skills

For skills that the character already knows there is a limit of one skill improvement per skill and session. In order for the skill to be eligable for improvement, the skills must have been used in the session and that skill check must have failed. Whenever you fail a check, put a checkmark (✔) next to that skill so that you know you may increase it at the end of the session. If you have not failed a check you cannot increase the skill, representing that you have not learned from your mistakes.

For example, If you have +4 in Computers you may increase it to +5 between sessions provided that it has a checkmark next to it. You improve it by paying 5 experience points. You may not improve this skill again until after next session at the earliest. You are free to improve any number of skills between sessions as long as you have a checkmark next to them. But remember that you may only improve a single skill one time until the next session.

The reason for this limit is to encourage learning new skills and avoid spending all of your points on one particular skill and end up with a character that isn't believable or flexible. The requirement that one must fail with the skill represents learning from one's mistakes and that it's hard to improve when one is already a master.

Learning new skills

Learning a new skill is slightly different than improving known skills. New skills can be picked up at any time between sessions, provided that there's a narrative reason for why your character now knows this skill. A new skill can be increased to a maximum of +2 when picked up and doing so costs 1+2 = 3 experience points. 1 point for +1, 2 points for +2. Once a new skill has been raised to +2 it becomes a known skill and cannot be improved further until after next session and follows the same requirements as known skills.

Hidden skill checks and experience

Sometimes the GM calls for a check with a hidden Difficulty and doesn't let the player know whether they failed or succeeded (for instance, perception or insight checks). In this case, the GM should note down if the player failed their check and tell them at the end of the session so they still can increase their skills. The other option is not using hidden checks, which could take away tension and immersion.


Hiring a teacher is an excellent way to make one's progression more effective. A teacher is someone who has at least two skills to +6 or better and is willing to take students. The advantage of having a teacher is that learning new skills reduce the cost for increasing the skills he's teaching by 1 (to a minimum of 1), for as long as your character has less skill value than the teacher. Once you reach the value of your teacher, they can teach you no more. A teacher also bypasses the need to have failed a check on the skill in the session. Simply having a teacher tutor you in that particular skill means that it may be increased even if it has not been used. The drawback of a teacher is that they cost money. Unless one can pay them directly one often needs to perform work to pay for the teacher. The GM is of course welcome to construct whatever in-universe narrative to make a teacher available and paid for.

In addition to reducing the cost of increasing the skills that the teacher can teach you, they also provide you with one additional experience point per month, provided you spend the entire month studying under them. If you cannot actively study, only the cost reduction is available.

School and studying

An alternative to having a teacher is to study. You go to lectures and classes and spend most of your time studying. Education and schools may not be an option for your setting, but if they are, it's usually a cheaper option than a teacher.

Long time between sessions

Real time and narrative time aren't 1:1 and sometimes a lot of in-universe time can pass between sessions. In these cases, the GM may make different rulings on how much a skill may be improved between sessions, given the in-universe time that has passed.

Core Skills

The list below is not a complete list of all skills in CD10. You may create your own skill list to fit your setting, or peruse the public skill block list for CD10 here on Worldanvil.

Feats of strength and stamina that require good modulation of muscle strength and efficient use of body energy. This could involve things as lifting techniques, running methods to conserve energy or jumping very far. General knowledge of body mechanics.   Sprinting requires a check against this skill every turn to avoid accruing exhaustion in the form of Shock.
The skill to fight bare-handed or with hand-held short weapons, such as knuckledusters and small knives.
The ability to do detail work with your hands, sometimes without being seen. The dexterity skill can be used to handle delicate things, working with details or sleight-of-hand kinds of actions.
The ability to disguise oneself is perhaps tricky in a world where there are several different looking races. The disguise skill allows the user to take on the appearance and persona of another, but it must be someone from the same species as themselves unless the species are only superficially different.
The ability to convince someone that your point may be better than their point. This skill is common among traders who barter for prices all the time. But it can also be just trying to persuade someone to tell you something that you must know, or persuading them to help you. This is the friendlier side of Interrogation.
Language is a niched skill, which means that every language is its own skill. You don't write "Language" on your character sheet. You write the name of the language. A character always has their native language at +6 level plus any value in the trait Educated.   2: You know some phrases and words, but need to supplement your speech with a lot of gesturing to get your point across.
4: You speak the language decently, but you have a strong accent. Grammar is lacking and you have trouble finding words, but you have no day to day problems getting your point across. Misunderstandings happen regularly.
6: You can speak the language fluently with only a hint of accent. If it's your native tongue, your manner of speaking is primitive and not very refined.
8+: You speak the language like a native. Your accent is barely noticeable unless someone makes a real effort to notice it. You can even imitate certain dialects.

Cover image: by Mizeo


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